FAQS

Answers to the questions we’re being asked most.

General

PowerShift Atlantic is a research and demonstration project focused on finding more effective ways of integrating wind energy into electricity systems, using demonstration programs with residential and commercial utility customers across the Maritimes. Although the project is particularly focused on wind energy, what we learn may also be applied to research regarding other intermittent renewable energy sources, like solar energy. Research is focused on exploring a combination of wind forecasting and shifting energy demand to provide a more effective use of wind generated energy. This project applies intelligent software and hardware solutions, and explores a new model of regional collaboration and customer engagement.

PowerShift Atlantic is studying acceptable ways to shift when electricity flows to specific equipment within homes and businesses, with minimal or no disruption to the way the equipment operates, nor inconvenience to the participating customer. The research project applies smart grid technologies and improved wind forecasting tools to optimize the integration of wind generation into electric utilities’ resource mix. The project is contingent on customer engagement: learning how to engage customers and keep them engaged will be a key finding from the PowerShift Atlantic research.

PowerShift Atlantic is all about shifting when we use our power. All four electric utilities in the Maritimes are working with residential and commercial customers to demonstrate a smart grid approach to resource balancing. Eligible equipment (also known as ‘end uses’) for this research has some kind of energy storage capability and is not reliant on a constant supply of power to function. To offset the peaks and valleys of customer demand, PowerShift Atlantic shifts on/off/ up/down times of eligible equipment.

Diagram: Intelligent Load Shifting

The shift is intended to be unnoticeable and energy-neutral (i.e., the amount of energy used by participating equipment is the same as it would be without shifting), but the resulting smoother demand curve allows better use of wind generation when it’s available. This solution does not, in any way, affect the supply of safe and reliable power to customers. Throughout the project, residential and commercial customers continue to use the participating end use with no change to their routine. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

The PowerShift Atlantic research project is a multi-year initiative, launched in 2010. Our goal is to finalize installation and set-up by September 2013 and we look forward to collecting at least a full year of data that demonstrates viable ways to use more of our region’s installed wind capacity, work together with customers towards a greener grid, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. For all of the latest information, please refer to our News page.

Right now, PowerShift Atlantic is focused on recruiting residential and commercial customers for participation, installing the hardware and software required, improving methods of wind power forecasting and testing the smart grid solution. Our goal is to finalize installation and set-up by September 2013. This will allow a full year of demonstration and evaluation by the project completion date. For all of the latest information, please refer to our News page.

PowerShift Atlantic is one of 19 Clean Energy Fund projects currently underway nationwide.  It is led by Natural Resources Canada through the Clean Energy Fund and by New Brunswick Power, in partnership with Saint John Energy, Maritime Electric, Nova Scotia Power, New Brunswick System Operator, the University of New Brunswick (UNB), and the Governments of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. For more information about those involved, please visit our Partners page.

PowerShift Atlantic is an examination of effective energy use and resource balancing. It is a research project focused on finding more effective ways of integrating wind energy into the electricity systems in the Maritimes. The objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies that lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. Because the project is contingent on customer engagement, recruiting and connecting eligible participants and keeping them engaged throughout the research is one measure of success. The various hardware and software solutions employed in the project, as well as new wind forecasting tools are also being evaluated. The collaboration among customers, utilities, governments, and academic partners that has allowed this project to move forward is itself considered a big win. For all of the latest information, please refer to our News page.

In Maritime homes, PowerShift Atlantic is working with water heaters, electric boilers and electric thermal storage (ETS) units. In businesses, intelligent components are installed on a variety of qualifying equipment: Heating Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) units, electric boilers, water pumps, commercial refrigeration equipment, and commercial water heaters to name a few.   All eligible equipment (“end use”) has some kind of energy storage capability and does not rely on a constant supply of power to function. This allows the utility to remotely adjust supply by shifting the amount of energy that is being delivered to that particular piece of equipment at precise times. Utility customers' participating equipment (for example, a residential water heater or a commercial refrigeration unit) continues to operate within desired temperature ranges. This solution does not, in any way, affect the supply of safe and reliable power to customers. Throughout the project, residential and commercial customers continue to use the participating end use with no change to their routine. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

Electricity in the Maritimes is produced through a combination of fuel sources including hydro, tidal, coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas, biomass and wind. Wind is a valuable part of the power generation mix, but utility companies will always need alternate power sources to provide constant and reliable energy.  All electricity supplied – traditionally, and for the equipment connected in this research project – is generated by this variety of sources. However, the PowerShift Atlantic solution provides a way to smooth the peaks and valleys of customer demand and improve predictions of wind generation availability. This allows a more effective use of conventional generation combined with wind generation. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

A limited number of residential and commercial customers will be invited to participate in the research project. Some are already engaged and connected. If you are interested in participating, contact your local utility to determine if you are eligible. If you have specific questions, please Contact Us and someone will get back to you.

If you have questions about PowerShift Atlantic or want to learn more about research program participation, please contact:
Norma McCarthy
Customer Engagement
PowerShift Atlantic
Email: nmccarthy@nbpower.com

NB Power
Kathleen Duguay
Phone: 506.458.3111
Email: kduguay@nbpower.com

Nova Scotia Power
Judy O’Leary
Phone: 902.428.6142
Email: judith.oleary@nspower.ca

Maritime Electric
Kris Jackson
Phone: 902.629.3821
Email: jacksonkr@maritimeelectric.com

Saint John Energy
Marta Kelly
Phone: 506.658.5271
Email: Marta.Kelly@unb.ca

University of New Brunswick
Gregoire Carriere
Phone: 506.453.4546
Email: Gregoire.carriere@unb.ca

Energy Consumption

This solution does not reduce energy consumption. The project is an examination of effective energy use and resource balancing. The shift is energy-neutral (i.e., the amount of energy used by participating equipment is the same as it would be without shifting), but the smoother demand curve allows better use of wind generation when it’s available. The goal is not to find more wind, or use less energy; rather it is to make better use of what we have to serve what we need. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

Four demonstration projects are underway across the Maritimes with residential and commercial sites connected. A variety of hardware and software solutions are in place to implement load management and begin measuring results. While an established level of customer participation is required to demonstrate the PowerShift Atlantic approach, the amount of load connected for the project is not large enough to impact utility operations as a whole. The real objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies; that is, to show that this approach to resource balancing works. At this stage in the research, there is no noticeable impact to costs or energy efficiencies for participants or utilities. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

Saving Money

PowerShift Atlantic is an examination of effective energy use and resource balancing. It is a research project focused on finding more effective ways of integrating wind energy into the electricity systems in the Maritimes. Because the solution is energy-neutral, there are no anticipated customer savings. And because the research employs many different hardware and software solutions depending on the eligible equipment, utility and infrastructure already in place, general cost and/or rate implications can’t be inferred. The objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies that lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.

Cost savings is not an objective of the PowerShift Atlantic project. PowerShift Atlantic is a research project focused on finding more effective ways of integrating wind energy into the electricity systems in the Maritimes. The objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies that diversify our power generation resources and lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.  PowerShift Atlantic will evaluate the end-to-end solution and all the components involved, supplying utilities with valuable information they can use to make decisions about integrating renewable resources in the future.   

Cost savings is not an objective of the PowerShift Atlantic project. PowerShift Atlantic is a research project focused on finding more effective ways of integrating wind energy into the electricity systems in the Maritimes. The objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies that diversify our power generation resources and lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. PowerShift Atlantic will evaluate the end-to-end solution and all the components involved, supplying utilities with valuable information they can use to make decisions about integrating renewable resources in the future.   

No, and cost savings is not an objective of the PowerShift Atlantic project. Every project partner has invested in developing the process and components that make this research possible. The objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies that lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. As our fossil fuel resources deplete over time, we are proactively focused on how to use renewable sources of power most effectively.

Project Results

The short answer is “yes”.  The objective of PowerShift Atlantic research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies that lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.

• Electricity customers, utilities, governments, and academic partners across the Maritimes are collaborating to employ the PowerShift Atlantic solution for the purpose of collecting and evaluating data.

• The project is contingent on customer engagement:  our region’s electric utilities are successfully recruiting and connecting eligible participants and keeping them engaged throughout the project.

• Four demonstration projects are underway, led by the electric utility companies serving our three Canadian Maritime provinces. Residential and commercial customers have been connected, and will participate for a full, one-year demonstration period. The project evaluates the intelligent load management solution targeting 26 MW of connected load (about the amount needed to power the greater Charlottetown area, or slightly less than the city of Fredericton).

• Infrastructure is in place to implement aggregators, install required equipment, perform load management and start to measure results.

• Participating customers report that they feel positive about wind generation, they are eager to participate in a wind research project and they have experienced minimum inconvenience – in fact, their experience is “business as usual”.

• PowerShift Atlantic research is attracting international attention with awards and mentions: the project was referenced in a 2011 U.S. Department of Energy white paper as “the first project in the world to use aggregated load for the integration of wind power into the system.” The project has also been awarded the Canadian Electricity Association Sustainable Electricity award for Economic Excellence and the CanWEA R.J. Templin Award for its work in advancing the wind energy industry in Canada.

Wind is a valuable source of energy in the Maritimes and offers a unique opportunity to study ways to integrate wind more effectively into our electrical grid. Maritime utilities already use wind-generated power in their resource mix. We are not looking to “find more wind” nor generate more power with wind: The objective of the PowerShift Atlantic research is to make better use of the wind generated power we can access to meet the electrical demands of Maritimers.

Diagram: Energy supply = customer demand

Electricity in the Maritimes is produced through a combination of fuel sources including hydro, tidal, coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas, biomass and wind. Traditional power generation is “powered up” to meet peaks in demand and “powered down” during times of low need. Wind is a valuable part of the power generation mix, but utility companies will always need alternate power sources to provide constant and reliable energy. And because wind is variable and hard to predict, it cannot be controlled like traditional power generation – to be powered up or down to match demand. The PowerShift Atlantic solution smooths the peaks and valleys of customer demand to allow an optimized use of conventional generation combined with wind generation.  This research is especially timely because the amount of wind generated electricity available to Maritime electric utilities has increased significantly since the start of the project in 2010.

While an established level of customer participation is required to demonstrate the PowerShift Atlantic approach, the amount of load connected for the project is not large enough to impact utility operations as a whole. The real objective of the research is to demonstrate best practices in customer engagement, wind forecasting methods and smart grid technologies; that is, to show that this approach to resource balancing works.

Impact of participating

Maritime province electric utilities have heard their customers’ request for greener energy. While the project does not affect behaviour or consumption, the research will impact utilities’ use of wind-generated power and, by extension, other renewable energy sources.  PowerShift Atlantic presents an opportunity to make a positive difference for the region and the environment. It is a chance for the Maritime Provinces to play a role in advancing the adoption of clean renewable energy sources and help create a better legacy for future generations of Maritimers.  

The PowerShift Atlantic project includes adding intelligent components to equipment (end uses) in electric utility customers’ homes and businesses. The component is installed on end uses that have energy storage capability - like electric water heaters, commercial refrigeration units, and Heating Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) systems to name a few. Throughout the research project, customers continue to use the participating end use with no change to their usage or routine. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

Customer participation is crucial in this long-term research project: the solution starts inside homes and businesses. Intelligent components are installed on qualifying equipment (“end uses”). All eligible end uses have some kind of energy storage capability and do not rely on a constant supply of power to function. This allows the utility to remotely adjust demand by shifting the amount of energy that is being delivered to that particular piece of equipment at precise times. The shift is unnoticeable and energy-neutral (i.e., the amount of energy used by participating equipment is the same as it would be without shifting), but the smoother demand curve allows better use of wind generation when it’s available. This solution does not, in any way, affect the supply of safe and reliable power to customers, and equipment continues to operate within desired temperature ranges. Throughout the project, residential and commercial customers continue to use the participating end use with no change to their usage or routine. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

The PowerShift Atlantic research project is a multi-year initiative. Right now, PowerShift Atlantic is recruiting residential and commercial customers for participation, installing the hardware and software required and testing the smart grid solution. We look forward to at least one full year of demonstration and evaluation; the project is scaled to provide an opportunity to go beyond 2014 – each solution will vary in its timelines. For more information, contact your local electric utility about their specific role in the PowerShift Atlantic research project.

The PowerShift Atlantic research project is a multi-year initiative that endeavors to collect at least a full year of data that will demonstrate viable ways to use more of our region’s installed wind capacity, work with customers for a greener grid, and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. To obtain the data we need to evaluate this smart grid approach to resource-balancing accurately, we’re working with all participants to ensure they stay with the program as long as possible.

PowerShift Atlantic studies acceptable ways to shift when electricity flows to homes and businesses, with minimal or no disruption or inconvenience to the customer. The equipment that is eligible for this research has some kind of energy storage capability (like electric water heaters, commercial refrigeration units, or Heating Ventilation and Cooling [HVAC] systems). This equipment does not rely on a constant supply of power to function, which allows the utility to remotely adjust supply by shifting the amount of energy that is being delivered to that particular piece of equipment at precise times. The shift is unnoticeable and energy-neutral (i.e., the amount of energy used by participating equipment is the same as it would be without shifting), but the smoother demand curve allows better use of wind generation when it’s available. This solution does not, in any way, affect the supply of safe and reliable power to customers, and equipment continues to operate within desired temperature ranges. Throughout the project, residential and commercial customers continue to use the participating end use with no change to their usage or routine. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.

Electricity in the Maritimes is produced through a combination of fuel sources including hydro, tidal, coal, oil, nuclear, natural gas, biomass and wind. Wind is a valuable part of the power generation mix, but utility companies will always need alternate power sources to provide constant and reliable energy.  The PowerShift Atlantic solution smooths the peaks and valleys of customer demand to allow a more effective use of conventional generation combined with wind generation. It is a solution that optimizes the integration of wind generated power into the entire electrical grid. But it is not a way to route wind-generated power to single end uses, or provide power that is generated solely by wind.

During the demonstration project, electric utilities will remotely adjust energy supply to eligible equipment by shifting the amount of energy that is being delivered to that particular piece of equipment at precise times. The shift is unnoticeable and energy-neutral (i.e., the amount of energy used by participating equipment is the same as it would be without shifting), but the smoother demand curve allows better use of wind generation when it’s available. This solution does not, in any way, affect the supply of safe and reliable power to customers, and equipment continues to operate within desired temperature ranges. Throughout the project, residential and commercial customers continue to use the participating end use with no change to their usage or routine. For more information, please check out our How It Works section.